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Induction Cooktops Encourage the Replacement of Gas Burners

William Hughes
Feb 26, 2024

Closeup of a stovetop gas burner with blue flame

Consistent with the goals of moving away from direct fossil fuel use and toward greater home electrification, people are increasingly installing induction cooktops in kitchens. Induction cooktops are an alternative to cooktops that use natural gas, traditional electric coils, or ceramic burners. Entities focused on environmental and health issues are advocating for induction cooktops, either as a part of a range or as separate cooktops, to serve as the alternative of choice for those who prefer gas cooktops.

Currently, over 40% of homes in the US primarily rely on gas as a cooking fuel. Research from groups such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Chemical Society has found that cooking with gas indoors produces poor indoor air quality, contributing to illness and premature death. Some jurisdictions are seeking ways to phase out the use of natural gas for cooking in pursuit of greater home electrification.

The Pros and Cons of Induction Cooktops

The main reason induction cooktops are growing in popularity is that they offer greater convenience. According to Consumer Reports, induction cooktops can boil water up to 40% faster than conventional electric or gas burners. They also have temperature sensors and timers that offer the cook the ability to automatically change temperatures or switch cooking methods at programmed times, such as going from a fast boil to a simmer at a specific time or temperature.

Additionally, using an induction cooktop is safer. The cooking surface gets warm from the cookware but will not get as hot as a heating element or an open flame. It also will shut down if it senses conditions that could lead to a fire. There are no local emissions, other than the smell of cooking food.

Induction cooktops are somewhat more energy efficient than conventional electric burners, offering about a 10% bump in efficiency, but the savings are not very significant. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Americans with electric cooktops spend about $31 annually on cooking. If all cooking was done on induction cooktops, the 10% improvement would result in a savings of $3 a year. Even factoring in its useful life, this does not come close to the price premium for an induction cooktop, which is the primary con. In addition, not all cookware is induction ready. Induction converters are available for cookware that does not work directly with induction, but this means an additional $20 and another item to manage, or consumers must purchase new cookware.

We Have Changed Cooking Methods Before

Homeowners faced similar pros and cons in the 1970s when considering a microwave oven. With each kitchen presumably already having a cooktop and oven, only 6% of homes in the US had a microwave in 1978, based on historical data from the EIA’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey. By 1985, 27% had one, and by 1990, the number had climbed to 52%. The convenience of cooking a hot dog in 30 seconds was enough motivation to overcome the obstacles.

According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, induction ranges, which combine cooktops and ovens, currently account for almost 5% of electric range sales, while standalone induction cooktops comprised about 33% of all electric cooktop shipments in 2022. These rates are small but significant, with the potential to approximate the adoption curve of microwave ovens in the 1980s. As a way to encourage the transition from gas to electric in the home, the prospects for induction cooktops are good.